1 p.m.: IF Armagh vs. Dublin
The opening game at the Mecca on Sunday promises to be a rousing affair, with Dublin on top of the division while Armagh is also poised in playoff contention. Armagh, in fact, has had a bombardment of games in the last two weeks which is crazy to say the least.
Garth Kelly and Kevin McGeeney are battling injury, but Shane Lyons has been in tremendous form. Alan Hearty and John Hanratty are dangerous forwards, while Donal Hearty is a brilliant shot stopper in goal.
Dublin put themselves on top of the table with a win over Kerry last weekend. Alan O’Reilly is a very confident keeper. Kieran Fitzgerald, David Mooney, who is a brilliant player, Declan Reilly, Phil Bannon and John McDaid bring a serious element to the side. Phil Daly had four goals last week and will take watching.
It should be a very entertaining start to the day. Dublin to prevail.
2:30 p.m.: SH Galway vs. Offaly
The last group game in the hurling division. Hopefully both teams will have all their paperwork in order as last week left a lot to be desired in that capacity.
That said, if Offaly gets the win here they are directly in to the hurling final, while if Galway are victorious then it will be a rematch for these teams in the semi, while Tipperary will get the lone slot in the final.
Offaly are on a quest for three in a row with captain Donie Broderick looking to be the third man up for the Faithful. He is having a very good year as the armband wearer, while Shane Sweeney and Richie Dollard are prolific scorers beside him in the forward line. Aiden Ryan from Craughwell launches the ball to the opposite 45 with every puck out and is having a brilliant year as custodian.
Galway was not at the races against Tipp last Sunday -- the less said about that game the better. Their best performance this year was earlier against Tipp when they had a draw. They will need to rekindle the form of that day to trouble Offaly.
It may not be enough, however. Offaly to take the points in the first game of a daily double gamble.
4 p.m.: SF Cavan vs. Donegal
Cavan will be disappointed that they couldn’t close the deal against Sligo last week. It will feel like a point lost instead of won.
This game has two ramifications. It is a relegation encounter as both are on the foot of the table, with Cavan on one point while Donegal have none.
Donegal have impressive performances all year from Johnny McNicholas, Aiden Downes and Tom Hardwick when available. James Huvane has also impressed at full back, with Bobby McDonald a roving wing forward.
Cavan have a very dependable keeper in Martin O’Connor, a solid back line where Mick Maloney, John Payne and Brendan Reilly excel. Johnny Ryan and Paddy Smith are excellent forwards.
The game has all the makings of a close battle right to the end, with a playoff spot possible still for Cavan if they can get the win. Donegal are all but out of that equation.
5:30 p.m.: SF Sligo vs. Tyrone
The Reds are sitting on top of the league table after five wins without a loss thus far. The defense has been tremendous, with Gerard McCullough, Joe Bell and Paul Mulhern outstanding in the full back line.
Gary Reilly and Eamonn Lyons are a formidable duo in the center, but Johnny Murtagh will need help up front as it may not be a good idea to rely so heavily on the one player. Granted he is well capable of carrying a team, but eventually the opposition will find a way to slow his advances.
Sligo had a battling draw last week against Cavan and is now on an inside track for the sixth slot in the division. Tyrone and Leitrim have already secured two, Down and Cork look to have another pair in sight while Kerry may have done enough in the early games to grab the five slot.
Sean Pender, Tony Woods, Nester Allen and Niall Moran were all prominent against Cavan. This outing will be far tougher, however.
With the bank at 230 after a very successful week gone by -- Tipp, Leitrim and Down all hit on the treble -- we now get adventurous again. 6 to 4 odds on Offaly and Tyrone coming in with 30 wagered. An extra 20 that they both cover by five. No point in going to Croke Park without plenty of spending money.
NY GAA Schedule Changes
The schedule for the rest of the year had a few changes announced this week, with St. Barnabas pulling out of the intermediate championship following on the heels of the New Jersey withdrawal a couple of weeks ago in hurling.
It should free up dates to complete all in a gentlemanly fashion, but it seems the opposite is the case. It is very easy to sit on the ditch and complain, criticize or question, but the latest schedule leaves a lot to be desired.
A couple of questions -- Armagh are playing three games in nine days, Kerry intermediates are playing three games in 10 days, and Cavan juniors have three in eight days. It makes no sense whatsoever.
With panels of players tight there is no free time to recover from injury, and absolutely none for training.
Leitrim played their last three games on Saturday night, on the last three Saturday nights. Tyrone plays all their games on Sundays. A huge difference in temperature, not to mention the fact that you have a weekend to go out if you so wish.
Kerry seniors played a bunch of games at the start of the championship year and have had one in the last four weeks. The season seems to be set up until the end of the year, but there is no sign of Cavan vs. Four Provinces on it, and seemingly no slot to fill it in on unless one of the sides plays three games in eight days.
Four Ps and Kerry had one game each in July while Leitrim and Down had three.
It is too late to undo what has been done, but it must be used as a template in future times as a learning tool. To have the season over and done in basically six weeks when consideration to new players is taken into account is not a perfect world. Ask Chicago or Boston about that and they will tell you how it comes about.
Hopefully the board will look and address.